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Last week, we took a look at the Italian tradition of celebrating St. Nicholas Day, as well as the prevalence of online learning in Italy. This week, we are diving into the Indian holiday of Diwali, and how distance learning in India differs from its U.S. counterparts. 


Diwali, also known as Divali or Deepavali, is celebrated by members of the Hindu, Sikh, and Jain faiths. In India, Singapore, and several other southeast Asian countries, Diwali is a national holiday. Diwali is a festival of lights that celebrates the triumph of good over evil. Participants light candles and clay pots, known as diyahs, to illuminate their homes and the streets during the dark night. Also, during Diwali fireworks are set off.  Some people believe the fireworks help to ward off evil spirits. Diwali’s dates vary from year to year but it is always during the fall. 

Most of India celebrates Diwali for five days, with the celebration peaking on the third day. Each day holds a special significance. The first day is used to clean the home, and arrange colored rice or flowers into intricate designs, called rangoli, on the floors. The second day is for buying and preparing food, and praying to ones’ ancestors. On day three, the celebration peaks, and people gather with their families to light the candles and set off fireworks. In some parts of India, day four is a special day for husbands and wives, who often exchange presents. Finally, the theme of day five is the bond between siblings. The overall themes of Diwali are light and family.

Online Learning in India

The Indira Gandhi National Open University coordinates distance learning through regional centers and over 25,000 counselors. The Distance Education Counsel also coordinates distance education at traditional universities. Massive open online courses (MOOCs)  are available for free through educational institutes. The opinion of online higher education in India is that it does not provide sufficient structure, both human and physical. Distance learning opportunities have grown rapidly in the last few years. The academic standards and human resources needed to make these courses successful does not exist. 

Distance learning has grown quickly in higher education and for job training among working professionals. Distance learning is also expected to grow eight fold by the year 2021.  There are many reasons  for the increase of online learning. Test prep companies are cashing in on the trend. The lack of quality professors in smaller cities and rural areas has led students to embrace distance education. The Internet is spreading across India at a very quick pace. Online courses are generally more affordable than traditional schooling. Finally, online learning appeals to younger learners because of the interactive, fun aspects of online graphics and gaming-like videos. 

Next week, we plan to focus on the holiday of Hanukkah, and how online learning looks in Israel!